Friday, 13 March 2009
One of my fleeting moments of power and influence.
It was 0800hours and a few of us had been called in on a rest day for a pre-planned operation, to dress up in plain clothes and go out looking for wanted offenders.
We had obeyed by turning up in the obligatory "plain clothes copper" uniform of DM booths, jeans, and North Face jacket with buzz cuts for the blokes.
Of course, the robbery squad were too busy to deal with any robbery prisoners. Same for the burglary squad, and the domestic violence unit are always snowed under with their prisoners.
So all three had requested that we didn't go out looking for any of their circulated suspects.
Instead, we were briefed to go out looking for SERCO breaches. Most met officers will know these - when people who have been electronically tagged breach their conditions, SERCO automatically send a fax to the force with the time of the breach, and arrest enquiries are (eventually) made.
The sergeant had called in sick. The DI looked at me - "Area, you're Acting Sergeant for this. I need a return of work on my desk before you head off. Cheers."
I leafed despondently through the dockets - I had one for a breach of curfew by four minutes. Hmmm.
Another one for a breach of curfew that happened on the day of his court date - the suspect had been at home since then, but had obviously got home late from court and therefore technically breached his curfew conditions by being outside the curfew hours. Not unreasonable when court finished at 1700 and curfew started at 1800.
A third breach of curfew by twenty minutes where the suspect's mother had phoned and stated he was ill and in hospital. This has actually happened some weeks ago, and since then the suspect had gone to court for trial and been found not guilty.
In all, we had one docket with a 'real' arrest.
The robbery, burglary, and CID dockets had been sprited away by the guvnor from CID.
I had six officers and three unmarked cars. I quickly came up with a plan: "OK, lets see if we can nick this bugger and be back for breakfast."
Sure enough, the suspect from our one good docket had been evicted, and the house was boarded up.
I sent the other cars out to verbally warn the breaches of curfew, then at 1000 hours with nothing left to do, we RVP'd at the nick for a late breakfast.
With the "return of work" threat ringing in my ears, I decided to be creative, and we went out hunting. Two officers on plain clothes patrol in one of our busier town centres, and the rest of us targeting our hot spots and seeing if we could turn over some gang members.
At 1930 hours we headed back to the nick - loads of searches, a number of drug seizures, two shoplifters, an arrest for PWITS (Posession with intent to supply) and one for a wanted male who had decided to kick one of the unmarked cars in a drunken haze.
I dismissed the PCs with me, and headed up to report our success to the DI.
Next day, I had an email waiting in my inbox (as did the officers with me) asking in the strongest possible terms for an explanation - apparently there was great upset at my decision not to arrest the SERCO breaches I mentioned above. "Verbally warned" was not the result they were looking for. Our self created arrests didn't count as part of their targets for their dockets...
Serves them right for putting me in charge.